Seeking Guidance from God in Today’s A.A.? “Go with the Winners”

The following verses from the Book of James show specifically why and how to seek the wisdom of God. As A.A. Cofounder Dr. Bob stated, early members started their days be reading from the Book of James, 1 Corinthians 13, and Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7):

Members of Alcoholics Anonymous begin the day with a prayer for strength and a short period of Bible reading. They find the basic messages they need in the Sermon on the Mount, in Corinthians and the Book of James. [See Dick B., Real Twelve Step Fellowship History, 18.]

And verses from these Bible segments were common fare in the original Akron A.A. “Christian Fellowship” program A.A. Cofounders Bill W. and Dr. Bob began developing over the summer of 1935—the “old school” A.A. way.

From the Book of James, King James Version of the Bible

    If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him (James 1:5)

    Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning (James 1:17)

    Wherefore my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God (James 1:19-20)

    If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well (James 2:8)

    But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work (James 3:14-16)

    Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts (James 4:3)

    Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. . . . Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up (James 4:7-8, 10)

    Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. . . . For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil (James 4:13-16)

From Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount

Compare the following language from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Both Bill W. and Dr. Bob said that it contained the underlying spiritual philosophy of A.A. [See Dick B., Dr. Bob and His Library, 3rd ed., 9] And Dr. Bob pointedly made clear the real source of the verses from Jesus’ Sermon that underlay the well-known A.A. slogan, “First Things First.” [See Dick B., The Good Book-Big Book Guidebook, 92.] For Jesus taught:

    Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought [be not anxious] for your life what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not life more than meat, and the body than raiment? (Matthew 6:25)

    Wherefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink? Or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? . . . for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:31-33)

    It is about asking God’s guidance, and then obeying His will

Sound familiar to those of you who study the Big Book? If you do, you will find the Big Book full of prayers involving asking for the guidance of God. You’ll find requests that God’s will be done; that God save you from being angry; and the command that you love your neighbor as yourself. You’ll find that prayer for selfish ends is eschewed. You will find prayers humbly addressed to the Creator and involving submitting yourself to His will. And you’ll find talk of “Trust God, Clean House. Work with Others.”

When reliance on God is abandoned, the road is wide open to fear, anger, efforts to control, rationalization, and man-made errors. This was not the pioneer A.A. way of “the prince of all twelfth-steppers,” Dr. Bob. Nor is it what AAs learn when they study their basic text and take their Twelve Steps of recovery. And it is not what those is today’s A.A. learn when they study the basic ideas early AAs in Akron borrowed from their study the Bible.

There’s a reason for asking God for the answers. He knows your needs. He hears your prayers. And, if you are obedient to His will, He supplies what is needed, rather than just what is wanted.

Gloria Deo